Chances are, while you’re reading this, your inbox is overflowing with marketing emails for scores of different products and services. What makes you take the first desired action of opening the message? What makes you actually read what’s inside, and what drives you to click a call to action? If you’re not certain, that’s okay, because many people are unable to explain exactly what makes them do anything other than click “delete.” That’s the psychology behind email marketing.
In order to amass higher open rates, click rates and conversion rates, you have to identify your key target audiences and understand what makes them engage with you. No matter what, though, these 13 elements must be present.
1. An accurate, grabbing subject line. Don’t mislead subscribers right out of the gate. This is a sure way to increase unsubscribes and spam reports. Instead, find the right words to engage. Unlike online search results, your subscribers already took the first step in telling you they want to hear what you have to say. It’s your job to adequately summarize the topic of a mailing so they can decide if it’s one that raises their interest.
I found this useful post on subject line generation and the logic behind the trigger words.
2. Your company logo. People need to know who they’re dealing with, and the logo is the best way to tell them. It also reminds people that, yes, they did sign up to receive your mailings, cutting down on unsubscribe rates.
3. The primary purpose of the message. Is there a sale? Are you opening a new office? Are you changing your business hours, or going on vacation? Each mailing should have a single, main goal. If it’s to sell, highlighted products and services go at the top. If it’s to announce new website features they’re going to love? At the top. Anything else falls below, in an inverted pyramid style.
It’s okay if you have a few points to make. However, subject lines should convey the primary point. Keep in mind that you can promote lower priority topics to primary ones in a future mailing.
4. Text! Emails should never be solely graphical. A low text to image ratio increases the chance the message will be flagged as spam. But, there’s an even bigger problem. The majority of recipients are reading email on a smartphone, and most are configured by default to not automatically load images.
5. ALT tags! Don’t forget the “hidden” text you never think about. The ALT tag is what displays when images aren’t loaded. Use them to accurately describe the media to entice clicks and views. These tags are also used by screen readers and screen speaking apps (like Apple’s VoiceOver), which help the vision-impaired navigate. So, if you send a “tagless” email to my husband, who is totally blind, he won’t know what you’re trying to show him. That costs you sales.
6. Fast loading images! The more they have to wait for the email to load, the higher the chance of them giving up on it. Images must be optimized for speed, especially for mobile devices.
7. Links to alternative, key website sections. Not everyone is going to be interested in every mailing you send. By providing links to other content (in a less distracting way) you can gain more traction from your mailings. Analytics will tell you what the “hotspot” links are, so be sure to also track those links in your mailings and modify them as necessary.
8. Sharing links. Email newsletters aren’t shared as often as webpages, but the traction you can gain from an email can be higher than that of a webpage. So let them share it by email forwarding, tweeting and posting.
Promoting social sharing requires the email be archived on a server so it can load in any browser.
9. Your contact information. Don’t make people go to your website to figure out how to contact you. Link to contact pages directly. Include the address and phone number right in the email. This info saves time, instills trust and reduces frustration.
10. Links to your social profiles. Email marketing is a great way to increase likes and follow counts, so include social icons linked to your various profiles.
11. An unsubscribe link. Every email must have a removal link. Fortunately, people expect to see it near the very bottom.
You don’t have to use the term “unsubscribe”. Other appropriate wording includes “remove me” or “take me off the list”. Oh, and here’s how to manage unsubscribers so you’re not wasting money.
12. A reply-to address that’s monitored. Instead of sending emails from “noreply” addresses, use filters on an email account so those who think they can reach a human can actually get in touch. This is also a good way to preserve some of your subscribers who use auto-replies for verifications and change of addresses.
13. Any footnotes or disclaimers. If you’ve include any messages that need clarification, be sure to include a footnote. For example, if you offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount, include an asterisk (*) in the message. At the footer of the email include the asterisk again with clear terms about the offer. The same goes for coupons (listing the expiration date and any conditions).
Don’t be lazy when it comes to drafting marketing emails. Each step is necessary in order to get the best open rates, click rates and conversions. These elements are also necessary for the text-only version of the email (save for images), as well as the browser edition (for those who have difficulty reading the email within their email client).